We wait with agonized patience for the long, blessed days of summer, so I really hate it when irreplaceable hours seem to melt away in a hazy blur. Have you noticed how the balmy months seem far more accelerated? It’s as if the heat burns up the minutes a lot faster than when the snow is flying. Time stands still for no one…no matter how reverently you soak up the precious rays like sweet fruit preserves.
So now, this summer is rapidly evaporating in the pressure-cooker of a major teaching project. Having written the third installment of my book series on God, women and maximizing our potential in this crazy, morphing maelstrom of modern life, I felt the Lord wanting me to take it on its maiden voyage: teach it! Converting a chapter of ten-thousand words into a condensed one-third and creating a power-point to accompany every week is more than enough to fill your plate, not to mention actually having to teach the thing hot off the press.
I know it seems counter-intuitive, and many grumble loudly about it, but the best time to teach a woman’s Bible study is actually in the prime interim of spring/summer. Add to that ask the double whammy of calling the meeting on a Saturday morning! Like salmon swimming valiantly up-stream, it takes a lot of energy to go against the flow and convince the dubious that this is a wonderful idea. Any time you take a swing at such an established bastion as summer holidays, you'd better brace for a battering of opposition. Though you have to work around militant holiday planning and the inevitable laissez-faire that accompanies these halcyon days, it is highly profitable to gather the willing-hearted in the sweetly still hours of the sacred weekend.
To be clear, this was not my brilliant brain-child. The idea sprang alive one day when I stumbled across Proverbs 6:6-8.
Look to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways and be wise!— Which, having no chief, overseer, or ruler, Provides her food in the summer and gathers her supplies in the harvest.
The ant provides us with a superior example of industry and entrepreneurial savvy when she seizes what would seem to be a rank off-season to press in. Interestingly, that insect is described in feminine terms, so girls, carpe diem! Despite all resistance, a multitude of rationalized excuses from others, and my own inner groaning, I garner all my strength, set my face like flint, and press forward.
I’ve been through this process many times already, but it never fails to astound me how powerful, how significant this gathering together is. Like the story of Gideon and God’s unnerving edit of troops from ten-thousand down to three-hundred (Judges 7:1-8), the considerable commitment demanded for 10 weeks whittles out the half-hearted with a ruthless swath. But that’s ok. Numbers don’t phase me. I’ve learned that it’s better by far to have a handful of intensely hungry seekers than a couple dozen indifferent attenders. I’ve even watched the Lord custom-tailor the teaching to the needs of those devoted few once we get started, so moved is His heart at their attention. As we hunker down for some deep, honest consideration of the Word and how it is impacting the practical issues of our lives, the presence of the Holy Spirit is palpable. It’s as if He focuses His razor-sharp gaze on the humble believers who, in their simple stumbling around, are searching with child-like faith for things they can’t even put a name to. I love coming up with list of probing (read impudent) questions to really crack open the discussion. Imagine my on-going amazement when the girls zealously dive right in to the deep waters! Even the most introverted are secretly longing to speak their story and be heard. We possess a yearning, a profound requirement to be seen, acknowledged and important in the eyes of others, not just for what we do, but for who we are. What comes out of those close counsels rapidly matures into a powerful intimacy that brings great healing. When the Lord shows up this way, time after time, it never gets old!
The secret counsel of the Lord is with them that fear him: And He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Every session I teach, I unfailingly carry the burden to convey to my sisters how significant they are. In the unrelenting cyclone of family life, household management, a husband’s work priority and children’s scheduals, women seem to lose themselves. Their own needs become sublimated and silenced. Unforeseen crisis washes them up, ship-wrecked and starving on the shores of identity, completely undone. The lesson in this is that if you are looking to marriage, family or work to tell you who you are, you may get an answer, but it’s not the one you really long for. The anchoring of soul we require is far weightier. Studying the Word realigns our understanding of how beloved we are in God's sight. We possess pivotal importance. Fellowship feeds our self-worth and satisfies the soul's longing for deep bonding.
In our day, we hear a proliferation of outrageous, bombastic voices venting themselves with loud abandon through the Internet. It would seem the louder the volume, the more important the influence. Social media creates the illusion of community, yet rates of depression, loneliness and suicide are rising in striking escalation; genuine markers of the dearth of intense relationship and internal value our culture is experiencing as they forsake their Creator.
In the world's estimation, Bible Study is a ripe joke. However, ask those who make this powerful investment to tell you what they experience as they meditate the Word and open up their hearts to the Lord and one another. This is an action of profound faith and huge dividends, so they keep coming.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6
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